Seventy-some pairs of eyes watched last Friday as I realized I should have practiced holding up a picture book and reading it at the same time. I was reading Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox to a storytime group at the White Bear Lake Public Library. It might seem like an odd choice of a book for someone like me to read considering I don’t have “ten little fingers,” but I’ve found it’s a good introduction to the idea of people being born with lots of different traits–only having one arm is just another possibility. A little less common perhaps, but a possibility nonetheless.
I don’t know how much of that jived with the preschoolers in the storytime room last week, but the main thing is that we created a safe space for the sort of curiosity that people of all ages sometimes feel obligated to squash or keep to themselves. My hope is to help people feel comfortable talking about differences of all sorts. The more we talk, the less different we seem.
We left space for questions at the end, and at first people were shy about raising their hands. I did get a few great questions though that I thought I would answer here briefly in case you are curious too.
– Where do you get an arm like that?
I go to a doctor to get a prescription for an arm like this. Then I go to a place where they make prosthetics to get it fitted especially to me.
– How often do you have to get a new prosthetic arm?
When I was a kid, I had to get new arms frequently–at least every year, sometimes more often depending on how fast I grew. Now that I am not growing, they last a bit longer. My current prosthetic is 13 years old at this point, and I am sincerely hoping it lasts many more years.
– How do you get dressed?
This is a really common question from kids, and I have the hardest time answering it because I don’t really think about how I get dressed. I just do it. I suppose my left hand does most of the work with any buttons and zippers.
– Do you sleep with your prosthetic arm on?
No, I take it off to sleep, bathe, swim, or just relax. Prosthetics are very helpful, but not very comfortable.
– What kind of exercises can you do with one arm?
I am a bookish sort (surprise!) whose main form of exercise is taking long day dreamy walks, so I am not the most qualified to speak on this. But I will say that some of the yoga I have tried require a bit of adaptation to do them with one hand. If I were serious about fitness, I imagine a trainer could help me modify most exercises to suit my needs.
Do you have a question? Check out my FAQ or feel free to ask in the comments. :)